Linden Lab was just touting improvements to its web-based Second Life Marketplace last week, but veteran SL blogger Strawberry Singh has an irksome report of Markeplace problems that mere technical issues won't solve -- namely, unauthorized resell of avatar enhancements:
Apparently there are many accounts on the marketplace reselling full perm creations that they do not have permission to resell. They purchase full perm items from valid full perm creators such as: Underground, Creative Studio, Deadpool,Meli Imako, CBB and many more, then they illegally resell those items, with full perms, at a lower price than the creators themselves... The valid full perm creators have contacted Linden Lab by chat, phone calls and emails but unfortunately nothing has been done about this issue. All they are being told to do is file DMCA’s. A DMCA take down usually takes a week to be taken down, but the next day, that account puts it right back on that same Marketplace as a new listing.
Strawberry has some suggestions for avoiding these scams, which ironically enough, include not using the online Markeplace at all: "Purchase the items from the in-world store of the full perm creator instead of the Marketplace, to ensure that you are not purchasing from an illegal seller." Ironic, because a key point of the Marketplace existing at all is it makes online shopping for virtual content much more convenient than having to go rooting around for items in the full 3D client.
What's worse, Strawberry thinks there's no easy way for Linden Lab to lock down these kinds of scams:
"I honestly don't think they can because for them it would be hard to tell who is a valid seller without someone informing them at first and that's why the DMCA needs to happen," as she explains it to me. "If they went around closing accounts of people they suspect might be doing this without someone claiming it first, then they could potentially close some innocent accounts."
A potential solution does exist, she suggests: "I do think they should close down the accounts or review them completely once a DMCA has been filed against an account. Once a DMCA has been filed, then all the other items that seller is selling need to be examined and removed if they are also being illegally sold."
I think that might work, but then Linden Lab would need to be careful not to unfairly punish users who've been the target of unfair or frivolous DMCA claims (a pretty common phenomenon), which would take additional legwork. Then again, I don't see how Linden Lab could address this problem without paying much more in community management and enforcement costs -- and doing that would cut into Second Life's steadily shrinking profit margin. Then again, alienating content creators by not giving them a secure market also is also a profit-limiting move.
There's another option, but maybe that idea's best explained in a follow-up post.
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